Paul, I can only offer my sincere admiration to a man who has never felt more pressured in grading than when just practicing. I can only assume either your dojo is normally pyschologically brutal or you have untapped skills we should all learn...
It's a test, it's not that big a deal. I've never asked to test, I've always been "politely told" to test, so it's accurate to say that I don't care about rank, and could have tested much sooner than I did, but never did. (But, one should note, I did
test....so I do care about rank on some level)
Besides, it's just like class. There's you, there's someone else and there's someone dictating what technique to do. Want to see me nervous...shiai
. There's you, there's someone else who has been training as hard as you, who's as conditioned as you are athletically, who you have no idea about (what they are good at, their setups, their strategies) and will, to the best of their ability kick/punch/throw or submit you .... as hard and as fast as they can --- and in some cases with no concern about your health and welfare in the process.
I'll respond when I get a chance....